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New FlexConnect for Dolby Atmos could make wireless home theater audio simpler



New FlexConnect for Dolby Atmos could make wireless home theater audio simpler

Dolby Laboratories today unveiled Dolby Atmos FlexConnect, a tool that might make home theater audio systems more adaptable and straightforward. According to the manufacturer, FlexConnect enables TVs that support it to maximize Dolby Atmos audio output between the TV’s speakers and any associated wireless speakers. Dolby is currently only unveiling the feature in conjunction with forthcoming TCL TVs, although it may become available elsewhere.

FlexConnect is about adapting to people’s audio setups, with considerations for things like speaker quantity and placement. It will operate with Atmos, 5.1, and stereo sound. The new feature attempts to improve Atmos audio in situations where speaker placement is limited due to obstacles like room size, furniture, or outlet locations.

FlexConnect, according to Dolby, will allow users to hear the same experience regardless of where they are seated in the room, with audio being adjusted by the location and capabilities of each speaker.

FlexConnect’s ability to adapt audio based on speaker capacities is demonstrated by its ability to handle low frequencies, which many TVs find difficult. The TV’s speakers could “offload the bass to these speakers, which frees up power to allocate to other parts of the frequency spectrum,” according to a Dolby spokeswoman if there is a more powerful speaker connected.

“This could allow the TV speakers to allocate more power to dialogue, ensuring the best combination of bass and intelligibility,” the rep said.

Additionally, Dolby gave an example of how FlexConnect may modify audio according to speaker location. When two wireless speakers are placed in the back of the room, FlexConnect “will put more of the audio load onto the TV speakers so that the TV speakers cover the front soundstage and the dialogue.” However, the TV/center speakers would concentrate on dialogue if the wireless speakers were placed in the front of the room.

At this time, FlexConnect won’t be compatible with every brand of wireless speaker, according to Dolby. When we hear back from Dolby regarding the speaker brands that the feature will support, we’ll let you know. However, FlexConnect would be far more beneficial if it was platform-agnostic.

There are already similar TV features that tie you to a particular brand, like Samsung Q-Symphony, which synchronizes audio with compatible Samsung TV speakers and Samsung soundbars, LG Wow Orchestra, which synchronizes audio with LG TVs and LG soundbars, or Sony’s Acoustic Center Sync, which synchronizes compatible Sony TV speakers with an external Sony soundbar or audio system and claims to help sound to sound better. FlexConnect, however, does not call for a soundbar linked by HDMI or optical cables, unlike other features, such as Q-Symphony.

If Dolby is successful in getting FlexConnect adopted by numerous TV manufacturers, it may someday simplify home theater audio settings for casual consumers. However, as of right now, only TCL’s TV lineup for 2024 has committed to supporting FlexConnect. FlexConnect’s reach is constrained unless other TV manufacturers adopt it. The feature also depends on the TV’s built-in speakers, which can vary in quality between models but can be supplemented by external speakers.

FlexConnect will be demonstrated at the IFA 2023 trade show in Berlin, which opens this Friday, according to Dolby.

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